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Building the next generation of natural systems for the treatment of
wastewaters and the remediation of degraded water bodies

Who We Are


Principal: John Todd, Ph.D., Founder and President 

Partner: David Benjamin, Ph.D. Sivilarkitekt MNAL, LEED AP BD-C, Charrette Planner

Ecological Designer: Jonathan Todd 

Associated Partners 

Biohabitats. Erin English PE, LEED AP, Senior Engineer & Coordinator of JTED Engineering Services

Conservation Design Forum (CDF). James M. Patchett, RLA, FASLA, LEED AP, President

Ocean Arks International. Nancy Jack Todd, Co-Founder and Vice President. Also Editor and Publisher, “Annals of Earth”

How We Started

In the 1980s Dr. John Todd experimented with using biologically diverse systems to deal with recalcitrant contamination issues. These systems led to research and patents and have widely influenced a generation of wastewater technologies. In 1988 Dr. Todd founded John Todd Ecological Design to commercialize this vision and to create an accessible alternative to conventional wastewater treatment and a suite of novel techniques for the remediation of degraded water bodies. 


What we’ve done

Over the past 27 years, John Todd Ecological Design has completed projects on five continents dealing with waterborne waste streams ranging from domestic sewage to industrial wastes. JTED has been involved with the rehabilitation of a wide range of water bodies including sewage-contaminated urban canals, storm water ponds, landscape features and natural lakes.


Our designs use biodiversity and natural processes to create mechanically simple but biologically complex systems capable of treating the most difficult contaminants and human waste streams. We are focused on reshaping how people think about wastewater treatment by designing advanced ecologically engineered systems that clean water and provide a public amenity to built environments. We aim to remove conventional barriers and reconnect people with the nutrient and hydrological cycles to enliven the human experience.

Ecological wastewater treatment functions on three levels:


As a utility, serving the need for wastewater treatment


As an amenity, providing an aesthetic and living feature


As habitat, creating a home for wetland species including fish, dragonflies and migratory birds

A brief history:



John Todd and his wife Nancy Jack Todd create and develop New Alchemy Institute on Cape Cod, a rigorous research farm investigating closing the loop between food production, the built environment and waste. John’s work with hydroponics at New Alchemy laid the groundwork for the development of the Eco-Machine®. 



An Eco-Machine® is incorporated into an Eco-Agriculture park, closing the loop on vegetable production, mushroom cultivation, composting and the brewery process. Pictured here is Dr. Todd's son, Jonathan, with two of John’s students inside the Eco-Machine. 



The first Eco-Machine® is built in Harwich, Mass., treating septage lagoon waste to swimming water standards using sunlight and natural ecosystems. 



John Todd is awarded the first Buckminster Fuller Prize for his proposal, "Comprehensive Design for a Carbon-Neutral World: The Challenge of Appalachia." The proposal puts forth a strategy for transforming 1.5 million acres of strip-mined lands in Appalachia into a regenerative community. The Buckminster Fuller Challenge honors visionary thinking that seeks to "solve humanity’s most pressing problems in the shortest possible time while enhancing the Earth’s ecological integrity."



An Eco-Machine® is built to treat confectionary waste for Ethel M Chocolates in the desert of Nevada, demonstrating that ecological wastewater treatment is possible for industrial waste and in extreme climates.



The ribbon is cut at Omega Center for Sustainable Living, housing an Eco-Machine and heralding a new era of integrating ecological wastewater treatment into the heart of a building’s architecture.



Following the success of the South Burlington, Vt., Eco-Machine® treating 80,000 gallons per day of municipal wastewater, John Todd is awarded the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency’s Environmental Merit Award in recognition of demonstrated commitment and significant contributions to the environment.



JTED partners with Biomimicry South Africa and other African partners to bring low-cost, zero-energy ecological solutions for wastewater to the developing world, by-products of which are much-needed trees, gardens and soil for informal settlements. 

Our Team

John H. Todd, Ph.D.

Dr. Todd has been a pioneer in the field of ecological design and engineering for nearly five decades. He is the founder and president of John Todd Ecological Design. Dr. Todd has degrees in agriculture, parasitology and tropical medicine from McGill University, Montreal, and a doctorate in fisheries and ethology from the University of Michigan. He is professor emeritus and distinguished lecturer at University of Vermont’s Rubenstein School and a fellow of the Gund Institute for Ecological Economics at UVM. He is also the founder and president of Ocean Arks International, a non-profit research and education organization; and co-founder of New Alchemy Institute, a research center that has done pioneering investigation into organic agriculture, aquaculture and bioshelters. He has been an assistant scientist at Woods Hole Oceanographic Institute and assistant professor at San Diego State University. 

His numerous honors include the 2008 Buckminster Fuller Award for the best idea/concept to help save the planet/humanity; the Environmental Protection Agency’s Chico Mendes Award and Environment Merit Award; a lifetime achievement award from the New York Open Center; Global Visionary Award from the City of Chicago; and many others.  

He is also co-editor of "Solutions Journal"; a fellow of the Lindisfarne Association; a member the Society of Ecological Restoration and the Ecological Society of America; and serves on the advisory board of Ecological Engineering, the Journal of Ecotechnology. His patented Eco-Machine™ was exhibited by Smithsonian Institution’s Design Triennial at the Cooper–Hewitt Museum of Design in New York City. 

In 2007 he was named one of top 100 visionaries of the 20th century by "Resurgence & Ecologist" magazine. He also received an E.P.A. Award for his restorer technology on Lake Punawai, Four Seasons Resort, Hualai, Hawaii, for the promotion of innovative ideas, addressing environmental problems and its ability to be widely replicated. His work was recognized in the "Genius Issue" of Esquire and he was profiled as one of top 35 inventors in “Inventing Modern America” by David Brown. 

Other honors:

  • Hero of the Planet Award, Time Magazine

  • Honorary Doctorate, Green Mountain College

  • Bioneers Lifetime Achievement Award

  • Charles and Anne Morrow Lindbergh Award

  • Honorary Doctorate in Engineering, McMaster University

  • DaimlerChrysler Award for Innovation in Design

  • Discovery Award for Technological Innovation

  • Teddy Roosevelt Conservation Award

  • United Nations Recognition for Contributions to the Global Environment

  • Threshold Award for Contributions to Human Knowledge

  • Horace H. Rackham Award for Outstanding Doctoral Thesis, University of Michigan

Dr. Todd’s patents include:

  • 1990 U.S. Patent #5087353 Solar Aquatic Waste Apparatus

  • 1994 U.S. Patent # 5389257 Method for Treating Waste

  • 1995 U.S. Patent # 5486291 Ecological Fluidized Bed

  • 1996 U.S. Patent # 56618413 EFB System

Jonathan-Todd - 1.jpg

Jonathan Todd, Ecological Designer

Jonathan was the driving force behind John Todd Ecological Design for 19 years and oversaw the development and design of many of the companies most successful projects. Today Jonathan is located on the West coast and is focused on addressing the most pressing water issues in that region. 

After working as a captain in the Merchant Marines, Jonathan Todd joined his father in founding John Todd Ecological Design. He began immediately working to integrate his father’s natural ecological technologies as they evolved into the company’s growing client base.

Over the course of five years, working with engineers and other project designers, Jonathan helped to bring Dr. Todd’s discoveries to a commercial scale.

Jonathan worked with Omega Institute to develop the concept for the Omega Center for Sustainable Living. He was one of the leads in developing the concept with the client and selecting the design team. He was lead designer for Todd Ecological throughout the design, construction and implementation of this “Living Building Challenge” and Leadership in Energy and Environmental Designplatinum award-winning project.

Jonathan’s has brought robust, large-scale ecological wastewater solutions to the global community, recognizing that affordability, reliability, and aesthetic presentation are the keys to entering a competitive market against the conventional technologies.

Jonathan has been contracted as a consultant for architectural and engineering firms in the design of ecological exhibits, eco-industrial parks, and innovative large-scale water treatment systems.

As a personal mission, he has a keen interest in developing sustainable water solutions for refugee populations throughout the world.


David N. Benjamin, Ph.D

Sivilarkitekt MNAL, LEED AP BD-C, Charrette Planner

David Benjamin serves as senior advisor to John Todd Ecological Design. He has been practicing architecture since 1985 in the U.S. and Norway, and is committed to delivering innovation and quality for all aspects of the design, construction, and financing of sustainable architecture. He is also a founder of the company better. 

Dr. Benjamin has a master’s degree in architecture from Washington University, a doctorate in architecture/archaeology from the Norwegian University of Science and Technology (Trondheim), and performed postdoctoral research on innovating the Passivhaus standard for Oslo region contracting companies with a fellowship grant from the Norwegian Research Council, 2010-2011. 

He has published extensively on the subjects of the home, ecological and low-energy building design and the theoretical basis of ecological design in books, journal articles and in conference proceedings. His design practice includes building designs for several indigenous people groups, including an educational facility for a tribe in Bolivia, low energy housing for Great Plains tribes, the design and construction of several housing projects in Norway and designing and managing stakeholder charrettes for building and urban design project. Dr. Benjamin participated with many stakeholders in the Nordic low energy building design community to establish the Passivhus Norden organization in 2007 – 2009, is an investor in ecological technologies and established the consultancy for financing sustainable buildings and infrastructure. Better Inc. in Burlington, Vt.

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